Four years ago, in order to build the blogroll of my dreams, I started an account on Bloglines. It would take many more months before I'd switch from clicking down a long list of blog links that I had emailed myself and kept in my inbox; before I truly used a feed reader for its main purpose -- to save a reader time by delivering fresh blog posts to a central spot.
Ask.com announced on Friday that after over 5 years of service, it will be shutting down Bloglines on October 1st in order to shift their focus to other projects. The main reason being that -- according to Ask.com -- people simply don't use feed readers like they did back in the good ole days of the mid-aughts.
Instead, we're more likely to read blog posts because people have posted them to social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, or StumbleUpon. Ask.com makes faithfully following a single group of blogs from a feed reader sound like something your grandma might do. They say, "plenty of people are still RSS aggregator-faithful" in the same tone one might tell you not to worry -- it's still cool to wear stirrup pants and an oversized Forenza sweater.
In fact, last year Techcrunch wrote off RSS feeds altogether:
It’s time to get completely off RSS and switch to Twitter. RSS just doesn’t cut it anymore. The River of News has become the East River of news, which means it’s not worth swimming in if you get my drift.
So what's the story? Is RSS dead?
While I certainly click on links that come in from Twitter, Facebook, or StumbleUpon, I'm still more likely to catch a blog post if it comes in my feed reader. (By now, I've switched to Google Reader because it doesn't require me to sign into yet another site, the one clear advantage Google Reader has over Bloglines in terms of jumping on and off the site.) So am I the norm or am I just one of the old Internet dinosaurs, not changing with the tide?
Do you still use a feed reader (and which one)? Are you more likely to read blog posts that come to you via social media sites? Do you agree with Ask.com when they say, "RSS is a means to an end, not a consumer experience in and of itself" or would you miss your feed reader if it disappeared (like Bloglines!) tomorrow?
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